Since The Intolerance of Tolerance was published, readers have been sending me new examples they have spotted-examples of egregious intolerance masquerading in the name of tolerance. Sometimes these examples have been accompanied with a plea to incorporate them in any revised edition that might be called for. Of course, I too have spotted a handful of examples myself. In this editorial I’d like to comment briefly on three of them, probing a little to uncover what we should learn from them. Although the book drew on examples in both Europe and America, the follow three have surfaced in the United States.
The first is the drama that unfolded around Chick-fil-A. By now, the bare narrative is well-known. When Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, a man known for his Christian commitments, declared that he supported traditional heterosexual marriage, he was soon attacked in the press, in blog posts, and in some talk shows as homophobic, a hate monger, and worse-despite the fact that he himself had never used the word “homosexual” and despite the fact that no one seemed able to tell of a credible instance when Chick-fil-A staff at any of their outlets had ever treated any class of customers with less than the courtesy in which the staff were trained. Protests by the LGBT crowd followed at some sites, while supporters bought countless tens of thousands of meals in a show of support. More interesting, perhaps, was the announcement by several big-city mayors, Washington D.C.’s Vincent Gray, Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, and San Francisco’s Edwin Lee, that they would prevent Chick-fil-A outlets from opening in their cities since they did not want to encourage any business characterized by such intolerance. They were soon joined by the mayor of Boston and the mayor of Philadelphia. By contrast, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, declared that however repellent he found Dan Cathy’s views to be, government should stay clear of such pronouncements and interference with businesses that were not in any sense breaking the law.
How should we think about this little drama?
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